Police in California barred to use facial recognition in body cameras

Police in California barred to use facial recognition in body cameras


Lawmaker in California passed a bill that will bar enforcement agencies at state and local level for a time period of three years from using body camera with facial recognition software, the latest restriction on use of technology that some view as violation of civil liberty laws.

The State Assembly came passing the bill on September 12, called AB-1215, with a wide margin for having 42 votes in favor of it whereas 18 members voted against the bill. And now it is up to discretion of Governor Gavin Newsom, who can sign the bill or can also veto the same when it will reach his desk for signing. The bill will came into effect from Jan 1, 2020 if passed.

The new legislation restricts the real time or afterward use of facial recognition by officers in their body cameras. But they are still allowed the use of that technology in videos but with blur faces to protect privacy of the individual involved while making those videos public if required to do so. The bill attracted the opposition of the law enforcement groups whereas the other social segments including American Civil Liberty Union of Northern California are in support of that.

Phil Ting, an Assembly member who is also sponsor of the bill, said that voting process was an important act in order to maintain trust in communities which have get the benefit of transparency those body cameras have provided to them.

But using the facial recognition software into those body cameras might be exposing to risk of shaking that trust, as it could become a surveillance tool which it was not meant to be, Ting told reporters.

Due to the concerns that facial recognition technology might be coming with great improvement on near future, the proposed law went through a revision after which it shortened the duration of law from seven years to three year to be in force.

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